U.S. vows speed at the border

November 19, 2001

19 November 2001

U.S. vows speed at the border

The following article is excerpted from the 17 November 2001 edition of "globeandmail.com".

U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill is vowing to fast-track measures aimed at speeding the flow of traffic across the Canadian-U.S. border, shooting down concerns that an open border is a security threat.

After an hour-long meeting with Finance Minister Paul Martin and Minister of National Revenue Martin Cauchon, Mr. O'Neill said the two governments are committed to making it less time-consuming for traffic to cross the border than it was even before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

He said he is prepared to proceed with a Canadian suggestion to have commercial trucks — equipped with transponders to track their movements — preclear customs at their originating plant and not have to stop at the border.

Such a system would be attractive at key southern Ontario border crossings where commercial traffic is especially heavy.

Both governments are also prepared to adopt high-tech identity cards that would speed up the border crossing for regular commuters.

The Liberal government is making a major push to ensure that concerns about security in the United States don't create jams at the border that hinder Canadian businesses and drive investment out of the country.

Mr. Martin and Foreign Affairs Minister John Manley have said that increased border security and the resulting traffic slowdown have been the biggest economic impacts on Canada of the terrorist attacks.

Mr. Martin is planning to allocate as much as $500-million for border infrastructure, including new roads and bridges as well as innovative technology.

The spending would be in additional to higher personnel costs involved in heightened immigration and customs security....

The ministers also agreed to appoint senior bureaucrats from both sides to co-ordinate the effort to improve border flow and said they will talk to one another every two weeks to monitor progress.

Mr. Martin briefed his U.S. counterpart on measures that Canada has taken since Sept. 11 to increase security, including the introduction of antiterrorism legislation that gives police new powers to battle terrorists.

Mr. O'Neill said he is persuaded that Canada is not a terrorist haven.

Canadian Economy & Politics
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Canadian News Channel
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